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Chapter 9

R e v e a l in g a n d O b s c u r in g R iv e r s ' s P e d ig r e e s
B io l o g ic a l I n h e r it a n c e a n d K in s h ip
in

M adagascar

Rita Astuti

The C ritique o f th e S tu d y o f K in sh ip
O n e o f th e m ost seriou s charges th at can be d irected again st fe llo w anthropologists is that th eir th eoretical assum ptions distort and im pair th e ir u n d erstan d in g o f th e p e o p le th e y study. T h e fie ld o f kinship studies is argu ab ly w h e r e this ch arge has b e e n m ad e m o s t fre q u e n tly and harshly. F o r e x a m p le , E d m u n d L each ju d g e d s om e o f th e c e n ­ tral d istinctions used in the c o m p a ra tiv e stu d y o f kinship system s by his c o n te m p o ra rie s to be a h a rm fu l 'stra itjack et o f th o u g h t' (L e a c h 1961: 4 ). In his v ie w , a p p a ren tly o b v io u s and in n o c u o u s c a te g o ry op p ositio n s such as p atrilin e a l/ m a trilin e a l w e r e in fact resp on sible fo r e th n o c e n tric biases, ta u to lo g y a n d circu larity. In th e sam e v e in , h e castigated M a lin o w s k i fo r a n u m b e r o f te n d e n tio u s assu m ption s o n w h ic h h e based his in te rp re ta tio n o f th e T ro b rian d w o r d tabu (th at kinship term s re fe r to individuals, and that th eir p rim a ry m e a n ­ ing stem s fro m th e n u cle a r fa m ily ), w h ic h p u sh ed h im in to a m aze o f a n o m a lie s and fo rced h im to a d o p t d esp erate a n a lytica l e x p e d i­ ents (1 9 5 8 : 143).

'ling and Obscuring Rivers's Pedigrees

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N e e d h a m (1 9 6 2 ) m a d e sim ila r p oin ts w h e n h e attacked H om a n s an d S c h n eid er's an alysis o f u n ila te ra l cross-cou sin m arriage. T h e cen tral te n e t o f H o m a n s an d S ch n eid er's th e o r y w a s the e x te n s io n o f s e n tim e n t h y p oth esis, and N e e d h a m 's m a in lin e o f attack c o n ­ sisted in s h o w in g th at n e ith e r H om a n s an d S c h n e id e r n o r R a d c liffe B ro w n b e fo r e th e m had ad d u ced a n y e m p iric a l e v id e n c e fo r th e a lle g e d process o f e x te n s io n . M o r e o v e r , fo llo w in g H ocart, N e e d h a m p o in te d o u t th at o n ly a p re ju d ic e o n th e p art o f th e E u ro p e a n o b ­ s e rv e r c o u ld lead o n e to b e lie v e th at k in sh ip te r m in o lo g ie s (i.e., th e e x te n s io n o f ce rta in k in sh ip term s b e y o n d th eir a lle g e d 'p rim a r y ' m e a n in g s ) c o u ld p r o v id e such e v id e n c e (N e e d h a m 1962: 3 7 ). B ut a p art fr o m th e p assion ate criticism s, N e e d h a m had a p o s itiv e and c on crete re c o m m e n d a tio n to offe r: 'w h e n e x a m in in g a system o f p re ­ scrip tive allian ces [it is essen tial] first o f all to m a k e th e m ost in ten se im a g in a tiv e e ffo r t to th in k in term s o f [th e p e o p le 's o w n ] classifica­ tio n ' (1 9 6 5 : 8 5 ). A rg u a b ly , it is S c h n e id e r (1 9 8 4 ) w h o has best d e m o n s tra te d th e con sequ en ces o f a failin g im agin ation . R hetorically, his c ritiqu e o f the c o n v e n tio n a l stu d y o f k in sh ip w as p a rtic u la rly p o w e r fu l because, in th e first instan ce at least, it w a s d ire c te d a t n o o th e r th an h im self. H e fa m o u s ly adm itted th at his o rigin al studies o f Y ap ese kinship w e r e serio u sly fla w e d fo r h e had w r o n g ly and e th n o c e n tr ic a lly assum ed th at rela tion s th at m a p p ed o n to th e 'g e n e a lo g ic a l g rid ' (e.g., th e re la ­ tio n b e tw e e n fa th e r an d c h ild ) w e r e ipso facto k in sh ip rela tion s. O n ly later d id h e re a lize th at w h a t h e had m ista k en ly tak en to be r e la ­ tions d e fin e d b y a lin k o f p ro c re a tio n w e r e in fact lo c a lly d e fin e d b y a lin k o f d e p e n d e n c e e stab lish ed th ro u g h p e o p le 's association w ith th e land a n d th ro u g h w o rk . F o r this reason, h e argu ed , th ese Yapese rela tion s w e r e n ot k in sh ip rela tion s, a n d h e p re d ic te d th at if a n th r o ­ p olo gists w e r e to treat th e e x is te n c e o f kinship as an e m p iric a l q u e s ­ tion - ra th er than assum e it - th e y w o u ld c o m e to rea lize that kinship is 'a sp ecial cu stom d is tin c tiv e o f E u ro p e a n cu ltu re, an in terestin g o d d ity at w o rs t, lik e th e Toda b o w c e r e m o n y ' (1 9 8 4 : 2 0 1 ). S c h n e id e r b la m ed W .H .R . R iv ers 's 'g e n e a lo g ic a l m e th o d ' fo r m is ­ le a d in g a n th ro p o lo g is ts in to 'a s s u m in g k in s h ip ' w h e r e n o n e is p res­ ent. A s S c h n e id e r h im s e lf a d m itted , 'th e fact is th at o n e r e a lly can c o lle c t a g e n e a lo g y fro m a n y p e o p le , an d b y asking s im p ly fo r the fath er, m o th e r, b ro th er, sister, son, d au gh ter, hu sband o r w ife o f each p e rs o n on it e x p a n d that g e n e a lo g y as far as th e in fo rm a n t's m e m o r y w ill carry h im ' (1 9 6 8 : 1 3 -1 4 ). T h e p ro b le m is th at b y so d o in g a n th ro p o lo g is ts fo re c lo s e th e o u tc o m e o f th e ir e n q u iry : b e ­ fo r e th e y e v e n start p lo ttin g d o w n the p ed igrees, a n th ro p o lo g is ts

in sofar as p e o p le u n iversally reco gn ize th e links that are e n g e n d e re d by h u m a n rep ro d u c tio n . In th e o p in io n o f m any.th e d is tin c tio n b e tw e e n 'facts o f b io lo g y ' and 'facts o f sociality ' . a n th ro p o lo gis ts w e r e b i­ ased to find natural links o f p ro c re a tio n e v e n w h e n th e p e o p le th e y stu d ied in v e s te d such links w ith rad ica lly d iffe r e n t m ea n in gs. ch ild . H e w a s c o n fid e n t that such a d istin ctio n cou ld be elic ite d sim p ly and stra ig h tfo rw a rd ly . a rm ed w ith 'th e g e n e a lo g ic a l m e th o d o f a n th r o p o lo g i­ cal e n q u ir y ' (R iv e rs 1968). m oth er. R iv e rs a r riv e d in a V e zo v illa g e o n th e w e s te rn coast o f M adagascar. th e y w ill also re c o g n ize th e d iffe re n c e b e tw e e n 're a l' paren ts an d p aren ts w h o are such as a resu lt o f a social c o n v e n tio n . because o f th e m e th o d th e y used. A n d this.R . R ivers's m eth o d . w as n o t o n ly p red icated o n the assu m p tion th at e v e r y w h e r e k in sh ip ca te g o ries h a v e a b io lo g ic a l re fe ren t. O n e o f his aim s w o u ld b e to collect th e p e d ig ree s o f as m a n y k n o w le d g e a b le and tru s tw o rth y in fo rm a n ts as possible. Since R ivers to ld us h o w to c o lle c t a p e d ig ree . w e k n o w e x a c tly h o w h e w o u ld start: b y ask in g each o f . as suggested at th e outset.H . this latter assu m p tion has b e e n as fu n d a m e n ­ tal to k in sh ip th e o riz in g as it has b e e n fatal. is surely o n e o f th e gravest fa ilu res fo r a n y an th ro p o lo gis t.b ecause h e b e lie v e d that. R ivers w as o f cou rse a c u te ly a w a re o f 'th e great d iffe r e n c e b e ­ tw e e n the system s o f rela tio n sh ip o f s avage and c iv iliz e d p e o p le s' (1968: 9 7 ).d e e m in g his m eth o d to b e a p p ro p ria te e v e n fo r a n th ro p o lo g is ts 'w ith n o k n o w le d g e o f the la n gu a ge and v e r y in fe r io r in terp re te rs ' (1 9 68 : 10 7) . B y im p o s in g a lie n o n ­ to lo g ic a l ca teg ories . and h e d esign ed his m e th o d accord in gly. in o th e r w o rd s . Rivers in M adagascar T o illu strate th e p oin t.216 Rita Astuti h a v e a lre a d y assum ed th at th eir in fo rm a n ts h a ve kinship. hu sband a n d w if e ) and to m a k e it c le a r that o n e w a n te d th e nam es o f th e in fo rm a n t's 're a l' paren ts and n o t o f a n y o th e r p e o p le w h o m ig h t b e called such as a resu lt o f th e classificatory system o f rela tion sh ip (1 9 6 8 : 9 7 ). in o r d e r to c o m p ile a c o m p le te an d accu rate g e n e a lo g ic a l rec o rd o f th e w h o le c o m m u n ity .k in sh ip theorists h a v e system atically distorted ou r u n d erstan d in g o f o th e r p e o p le 's 'cu ltu res o f rela ted n ess' (C arsten 2 0 0 0 ). His r e c o m m e n ­ d atio n w as to use as fe w k in sh ip term s as possib le (fath er. In o th e r w o rd s. I shall start b y im a g in in g w h a t w o u ld h a p p e n if W . but also o n th e assu m p tion th at e v e r y w h e r e p e o p le d ra w a p rin cip led d istin ctio n b e tw e e n b io lo g ic a l and social rela tion s.

T h e w o m b is called 'th e h o u se o f th e c h ild ' (tra tio n ’ zaza) and it is in this h ou se th at th e child is g ra d u a lly fo rm e d . Thus.w h ic h stops flo w in g ou t o f th e w o m b .g. w h ile th e m o th er's m en stru al b lo o d . w h ile 'th e m an is th e source o f th e p re g n a n c y ' ( lehilahy ro fo to ra n ' ateraha). V e zo adults. the fa th er w h o g en erated y o u ) m ark precisely the distinctions R ivers's gen ea log ica l m ap pin g calls for. L e t m e exp la in . if a p re g n a n t w o m a n takes a stron g .g e n e r a tio n o f both m o th ers and fa th ers .). F o r e x a m p le . lik e o th e r p e o p le in M adagascar. the m o th e r w h o gener­ ated y o u ) and 'baba niteraky anao' (lit. th anks to th e sem en th at th e fa th e r keeps th r o w in g in.Revealing and O bsa m t^ Rivers's Pedigrees 2 17 his in fo rm a n ts to n a m e th e ir 're a l' fa th e r and 're a l' m o th e r as o p ­ posed to th e vast n u m b e r o f p e o p le also refe rre d to b y th ese term s (e.. by h e r breast m ilk. in v o k e m ech a n ism s o th e r than p ro c re a tio n . T h e b ab y is also h u n g ry fo r food. B loc h 1993. Q u ite sim ply. see A stu ti 1993). T h o m a s 1 9 99 ). ligh t skin colour. A lth o u g h m y in fo r m ­ ants w e r e s o m e w h a t te n ta tiv e in th eir v ie w s on such m atters.2 N o n e th e les s . w h e n it com e s to e x p la in in g h o w th eir babies turn o u t to lo o k th e w a y th e y d o (e. T h ese v ie w s a b o u t c o n c e p tio n and gesta tion ap p ear to stipu late a stron g b o d ily c o n n e c tio n b e tw e e n th e child and th e paren ts w h o h a v e g en e ra ted it. T h e ch ild g ro w s little by little. later. big eyes. it is th e o n e that V e zo p e o p le a re m ost re tice n t to m ak e.1 A llo c u tio n s such as 'n e n y n E e fa !^ a n d o ’ (}it..g. e tc . To c o n v e y this.. o n e sh ou ld c a re fu lly c o n sid e r th e d iscrep an cy b e tw e e n R iv e rs ’s an d V e zo in fo rm a n ts ' d e p lo y m e n t o f this d istin ctio n . an d th e c on trib u tion s o f p e o p le o th e r than th e baby's birth p aren ts (see.. O n B abies' Looks T h e re is n o d e n y in g th at V ezo adults rec o g n ize the u n iq u e ro le p layed b y fa th e r and m o th e r in g e n e ra tin g a ch ild . w h ile it is th e d iscrim in a tio n th at R iv ers n eed s m ost o f all. T h e fath er's sem en is resp on sible fo r p lacin g th e child inside the m oth er's w o m b . w h ic h is supplied by w h a t its m o th e r eats d u r­ in g p re g n a n c y an d. D espite the rela tiv e ease w ith w h ic h V e zo can be m ad e to d iscrim ­ inate linguistically b e tw e e n a person's 're a l' an d 'classificatory' parents. R iv ers w o u ld n e e d to k n o w th e v e r b .. fath er's broth ers. th eir v ie w s a b o u t h u m a n p ro c re a tio n can be s u m m a rize d as fo llo w s . e.builds up th e placen ta th at e n v e lo p s the baby. w h ic h is used to r e fe r to th e p h y s io lo g ical a e to f. fath er's and m o th er's sisters).g. th e m o th e r is 'th e rea l s o u rc e / o w n e r o f th e ch ild ' (am pela ro tena tom pony). b e n t nose. since she is th e o n e w h o puts in all the hard w o r k o f h o u sin g an d fe ed in g th e b ab y (fo r m o r e details.& r a iy .

in so d o in g.218 Rita Astuti dislike to s o m e o n e . it is the m o th er's resp on sib ility to p ro te c t and gu ard the b ab y fr o m th e m a n y w a n d e r in g spirits that. w e ll cap tu red b y th e p a n -M a la g a s y term used to describe th em : th e y are 'w a te r bab ies' (zaza-rano) . h e r b ab y w ill co m e to res e m b le th e d islik ed person . h e a lth y an d c h u b b y babies in to ugly.im m e rse d . W h ile still in uterus. T h e re is. she w as sh o ck ed to see that h er baby had a d e fe c t id e n tic a l to th e o n e she u sed to m ak e fu n of. h e a lth y and chubby.erasin g. as if o n e w e r e d ra w in g th e a tte n tio n o f p o w e r fu l forces. h o w e v e r . m o th e r and b ab y are lite ra lly fu sed in to o n e a n o th e r as th e y lie to g e th e r w ra p p e d u p in la y ers and layers o f blankets. B y con trast. T h e stated reason fo r such b e h a v ­ io u r is th at p e o p le d o n o t w a n t to b rin g bad luck o n th e b ab y b y s a y ­ in g th at it lo o k s b ea u tifu l. I f a p re g n a n t w o m a n has a lo v e r. th e resu lt o f a b a d ly a d m in is te re d q u in in e in je c tio n . so e m p h a tic a lly th at o n e can sense th a t th ey d o n o t r e a lly m ea n it. D u rin g the first f e w w e e k s a fte r birth. Such spirits h a v e an easy jo b because o f b ab ies' p h e ­ n o m e n a l plasticity. if th e y fin d th e baby a lo n e . This exp lain s a ra th e r cu riou s p ra ctice c o n c e rn in g th e w a y p e o ­ p le rela te to babies an d todd lers. th e baby's ap p eara n ces seem thus to be shaped by th e social rela tion s in w h ic h it is a lre a d y fu lly if o n ly v ic a rio u s ly . T h e y say it v e r y e m p h a tic a lly (r-a -a -a -ty zaza ty). W h e n she g a v e birth. a n o th e r aspect to this o v e r -e m p h a tic ab sence o f c o m p lim e n ts and a p p re c ia tio n fo r bab ies' look s. w h e th e r related to h e r o r not. at this tim e.w o b b ly . A s such. w h ic h m a y in te r v e n e to tra n sform g o o d -lo o k in g . th e traces le ft b y p re v io u s h u m a n rela tion sh ip s. if n o t b e fo re . b e n d ­ able. b on eless. w h ic h m ean s th at th e b ab y's face w ill b ear s o m e signs o f its m o th er's rela tion sh ip . sp en d in g a lo t o f tim e w ith . Such im m e r s io n w ill in te n s ify a fte r birth. M o r e seriou sly: w h y w a s a certa in child b o rn w ith a c lu b fo o t? B ecau se w h e n his m o th e r w as a child she used to tease o n e o f h e r c o n te m p o ra rie s w h o had a c lu b foot. resu ltin g in th e fu rth e r m o u ld in g o f th e baby's p h y s io g n o m y . th e ir h o ld o n life is at best te n u o u s an d is c e rta in ly n e v e r tak en fo r gran ted . th e o n ly th in g th e y e v e r say a b o u t its p h y sica l a p ­ p eara n ce is th at th e b a b y in q u e s tio n is v e r y ugly. th e lo v e r w ill 's te a l' s o m e o f th e baby's facial traits. o r e v e n ju st th in k in g a lo t a b o u t s o m e o n e d u rin g p re g n a n c y w ill cause th e ch ild to lo o k like th e fre q u e n te d person . w ill tak e h o ld o f it and c h a n ge its p h y s i­ o g n o m y . C o m p lim e n ts call fo r trou b le. W h ile p e o p le are . W h e n e v e r V e zo adults see a n e w ­ b o rn b ab y fo r th e first tim e o r e n c o u n te r an o ld e r o n e th e y h a v e n o t seen fo r a w h ile . s ick ly an d b o n y ones. such as d isaffected ancestors.

I shall su ggest an e x p la n a tio n . D u rin g fie ld w o r k . Th is w a y o f (n o t) s e ein g res e m b la n c e is ju s t o n e instan ce o f a m u c h w id e r strategy. F o r e x ­ a m p le. th e y establish o u r e x c lu s iv e claim s as his parents. w h ic h is in c lu s iv e ra th e r th an e x c lu s iv e . w h a t V e zo p e o p le w o u ld fin d od d is th e s u g gestion th at birth paren ts h a v e e x c lu s iv e claim s o v e r th e ir ch ild ren . th e n o ­ tio n th at c h ild re n 'b e lo n g ' to m o r e p e o p le than th e ir birth paren ts (a n d th a t g ra n d c h ild re n and g re a t-g ra n d c h ild re n 'b e lo n g ' to m o re p e o p le th an th e ir g ra n d p a re n ts an d g re a t-g ra n d p a re n ts ) is cen tra l to V e zo k in sh ip an d to th e rea liza tio n o f p e o p le 's m o s t v a lu e d aim in life : to rea ch o ld age s u rro u n d e d b y a vast n u m b e r o f d escend an ts. and a fte r m e in th e shape o f his e y e s ). p e o ­ p le also a c tiv e ly p u rsu e this e n d in th e ir e v e r y d a y practices.fling and Obscuring Rivers's Pedigrees 21 9 b u sy say in g h o w u g ly the b ab y is.g . instead.. A s a rg u ed e ls e w h e r e (A s tu ti 2 0 0 0 a ). th at m y son resem b les th e y o g a in stru cto r I m et w e e k ly w h e n I w a s p r e g ­ nant. as th ese t w o w a y s o f 's e e in g ' res e m b la n c e are c le a rly c o n n e c te d . B y con trast. m o r e p ro fo u n d ly . a lth o u g h c h ild re n ten d to be raised b y th e ir birth parents. T h e rea so n w e w o u ld fin d it o d d is n o t s im p ly th at w e d o n o t b e lie v e th at a baby's featu res can be a ffe cted b y th e m o th e r's r e la ­ tio n s h ip w ith h e r y o g a in stru cto r (e s p e c ia lly if she is a w o m a n !). h e has tak en a fte r his fa th e r in th e shape o f his m o u th . an d rem ark s a b ou t th e res e m b la n c e b e tw e e n c h ild re n and the p aren ts w h o h a v e g e n e ra te d th e m w o u ld b e in te rp re te d as a w a y o f su ggestin g ju st that. as V e zo p e o p le w o u ld . as I s tru gg le d to r e m e m b e r to say th at s tu n n in g ly b e a u tifu l babies w e r e v e r y ugly. th a t m y son resem b les his fa th e r an d m e (e . W h ile this o b je c tiv e is in h e re n t to th e V e zo u n d iffe re n tia te d system o f k in sh ip re c k o n in g . W e w o u ld fin d it o d d if s o m e o n e said. as th e y do. th ey d o n o t en g a g e in the standard E u ro p e a n p ra ctice o f scan n in g th e b ab y to establish its resem b la n ce to its b irth parents. b y s o c ia lizin g p a re n th o o d an d e x te n d in g th e ch ild 's b o d ily c o n n e c ­ tion s w e ll b e y o n d th ose w ith its parents. it . w e w o u ld fin d it o d d becau se w e d o n o t fe el that a y o g a in stru cto r sh o u ld h a v e a n y cla im o v e r h e r pup il's baby. W h e n p e o p le in E n g la n d say. th e m a n y w a y s in w h ic h babies c o m e to res e m b le p e o p le o th e r th an th e ir b irth p aren ts w o r k to d is so lv e th at u n iqu en ess and exc lu s iv ity . T h e a n s w e r to this q u e s tio n m ig h t e x p la in w h y. T h is w o u ld e x p la in w h y V e z o p e o p le are n o t p red isp osed to see res e m b la n c e w h e r e its e x is te n c e is an in d e x o f a u n iq u e an d e x c lu ­ sive rela tio n s h ip b e tw e e n p aren ts an d th e ir c h ild ren . Instead. th e y talk so m u ch a b ou t th e r e s e m ­ b lan ce b e tw e e n babies an d p e o p le other th an th e ir birth parents. I did n o t th in k o f ask in g V e z o adults w h y th e y d o n o t talk a b ou t th e resem b la n ce b e tw e e n bab ies an d th e ir b irth parents.

ju st like the Yapese o r M a la y practices described by Sch n eid er (1 9 8 4 ) and Carsten (1 9 9 5 . an d so o n ). m o th e r's sisters. w h ile n u rtu r­ in g rela tion s are s o m a tize d (b eca u se o f th e e ffe c t th at n u rtu re has o n th e b o d ily m a k e -u p o f the p e rs o n ). If.. . I suggest that th ere are t w o w ays in w h ic h an th rop olo gists can a p p ro ach an d m ak e sense o f this discrepancy. V ezo cu ltu ral practices h a v e the o v e r a ll e ffe c t o f obscuring the c on tou rs o f th e p e d ig ree s th at R ivers's m e th o d is d e ­ sign ed to reveal w ith such p recision and d efin iten ess. T h e first o n e is to argu e that. 4 A l ­ th o u g h th e re is a w e ll-u n d e r s to o d practical a d v a n ta ge in sharing c h ild ren in this w a y . w h ic h I a m a d v a n c in g here. th e p ro b le m w ith R ivers's m eth o d is n o t that it im p o ses alien o n to lo g ic a l d istin c­ tions.fo r e x a m p le . m o th er's broth ers. e v e r y e ffo rt is m a d e to break d o w n the b ou n d a ries th at d em arcate in d iv id u a l fa m ily units . R ivers's m e th o d and th e stu d y o f k in sh ip b u ilt o n it are in a d e q u a te becau se th e y are p re d ic a te d o n a d istin ctio n that is d is a llo w e d b y V e zo o n to lo g y . an im p o rta n t e ffe c t o f this p ractice is th at it trains c h ild re n and adults alik e to disregard th e d istinctions b e tw e e n o n e 's b irth and o th e r classificatory parents. 1997).g. V e zo d is tin ­ guish b e tw e e n 'facts o f b io lo g y ' and 'facts o f s o ciality'.’ B y contrast. fath er's broth ers. th e b eliefs a b ou t the sou rce o f ch ild ren 's p h y s io g n o m y suggest th at b io lo g ic a l p a re n th o o d is socia lized (as e v ­ id e n c e d b y th e m a n y p e o p le th e baby w ill res e m b le ). In d e ed . In this v ie w . as I s h o w b e lo w . fath er's sisters.fo r e x a m p le .220 Rita Astuti is con sid ered u n fo rg iv a b ly ru d e fo r such parents to assert th eir u n iq u e rights o r d u ties o v e r their c h ild re n . is to q u e s tio n w h e t h e r V e zo cu ltu ral practices can be ta k en as relia b le e v id e n c e o f p e o p le 's o n to lo g ic a l c o m m itm e n ts . b e tw e e n on e 's fu ll and o n e 's classificatory siblings. E xactly th e sam e e ffe c t is a c h ie v e d w h e n p e o p le d o not atten d to the res e m b la n c e b e tw e e n babies an d th eir b irth paren ts and c h o o s e to see it e ls e w h e re .6 T h e secon d w ay. In co m m en su rab le Ontologies? T h e eth n o g ra p h ic e v id e n c e I h a ve p resen ted so far suggests th at Vezo p e o p le ig n o re the d iffe re n c e s th at are so cen tral to R ivers's g e n e a lo g ­ ical m eth o d . V e z o cu ltu ral practices r e v e a l an o n to lo g y th at does n o t d ra w th e d is tin c tio n b e tw e e n 'facts o f b io lo g y ' and 'facts o f s o c ia lity '5 . T h e p ro b le m is th at it fails to cap tu re th e e ffo rts th ro u gh w h ic h V e zo p e o p le crea te a w o r ld in w h ic h th ese d istin ction s h a ve b e en m a d e irre le v a n t. b y e n c o u ra g in g c h ild ren to eat fro m a n y o f the k itchens o f th e ir n u m e ro u s 'p a re n ts ' (e.

S h e th en lo o k e d up. tsy maintsy misy vavafo). all liv in g th ings share im p o rta n t characteristics th at k eep th em a liv e .7 w h ic h is loca ted at th e c e n tre o f o n e 's chest. w ith th e sam e u n easin ess 1 h ad d e te cted in p re v io u s c o n ­ v e rsatio n s. m anahaky akoho ty. at th e base o f o n e 's b reastb on e. an d asked herself. and is an e m in e n t part o f th e h u m a n b o d y (it is the place w h e r e a p erson 's life -fo rc e resides and fro m w h e r e it departs w h e n th e p erson d ie s). I asked h e r a n o th e r q u e s ­ tio n . In this case. K orsia to o k s o m e tim e to th in k an d th en rep lie d : 'A ll things.se em e d to e x p la in this resistance. this tim e in tro d u c in g th e co m p a ris o n b e tw e e n an im als an d p e o p le in the o p p o s ite d ire c tio n . I w a s sitting n e x t to K orsia. In p re v io u s c o n ve rs a tio n s w ith o th e r V e zo in fo rm an ts. an d th en . I w a n t to start w ith a v ig n e tte fro m m y last vis it to th e field . if aliv e . I d e cid e d th at I sh ou ld try m y c o m p a re -h u m a n s -to an im als q u e s tio n o n c e m o re.. m y q u e s tio n w a s w h e t h e r ch ick en s also h a v e a vavafo. and p ro m p te d h e r to say w h a t she w o u ld n o t n o rm a lly c h o o s e to put in to w o rd s . h u m an s are lik e all o th e r liv in g th in g s) th at a n ­ th ro p o lo g is ts are o th e rw is e e x tr e m e ly u n lik e ly to stu m b le u p on . lite ra lly th e m o u th o f o n e 's h ea rt. th e sam e as this ch ick en . laha m ia y). as liv in g things. as it w e r e . th e y m ust h a v e th em . stop p ed w h a t she w as d o in g.g. in som e im p o rta n t respects. she th o u g h t a b o u t it. A s she resu m ed h a n d lin g th e ch ick en . as I w a s lo o k in g at K orsia's e x p e rt h a n d lin g o f th e ch ick en . b y p o in tin g to th e in te r ­ n al o rg a n s o f an a n im a l to e lic it th e n a m e o f th e sam e organ s in h u ­ m a n s ). A n d y et.g .h e n c e h e r surprise at h e a rin g h e rs elf sayin g 'h u m a n b ein gs lik e c h ic k e n s ? !' N o te th at th e idea that. m u st h a v e a vavafo' (ra h a iaby. O n c e again. A ll h u m a n b ein gs h a v e s o m e th in g called vavafo. if th e y b re a th e ' (tsy maintsy misy.. T h e reason this in c id e n t is r e le v a n t to th e a rg u m e n t I w a n t to d e ­ v e lo p a b o u t V e zo k in sh ip is th at it n ic e ly illustrates h o w in th e ir in ­ fe re n tia l rea so n in g p e o p le m a y d e p lo y k n o w le d g e (e.Revealing and ObscmKRj Rivers's Pedigrees 221 T o in tro d u ce m y a rgu m e n t. I had n o tic e d a m a rk ed resistan ce against a n y a ttem p t o n m y part to d ra w parallels b e tw e e n a n im a l and h u m a n a n a to m y (e . laha velo. gossip an d m o ra lizin g tales in w h ic h V ezo adults e x p lic itly fo rm u la te th e idea th at p e o p le a re not an im als th at h u m an s are o f a c a te g o ric a lly d iffe r e n t k ind th an an im als b e ­ cause th e y h a v e tab oos (see A stu ti 2 0 0 0 b ) . w h o w a s p re p a rin g a ch ic k e n fo r th e e v e n in g m ea l. h u ­ . T h e narratives. she said: 'Yes. m y qu estio n s cau gh t K orsia o ff-g u a rd . surprised an d a la rm ed b y w h a t she had ju s t said: 'H u m a n beings lik e c h ic k e n s ? !' ( olom -belo manahaky akoho?!). m y 3 8 -y e a r-o ld V e zo sister. T h e c o n v e rs a tio n started lik e this: 'W h a t's th e n a m e o f th ese th ings [th e c h ick en 's lu n g s ]? ' W h e n I asked w h e t h e r h u m a n b ein gs also h a v e th em .

a n s w e rin g sim p le fo rc e d -c h o ic e q u e s tio n s ).222 Rita Astuti m a n bein gs an d ch ick ens are in s om e im p o rta n t sense s im ila r w as in fe re n tia lly usefu l .. on the o th e r (e. P articipants h a v e to a n s w e r the fo llo w in g q u estio n : o n c e th e baby is fu lly g r o w n up. h a vitig b lon d as op p osed to dark h a ir). physical.g. since c h ild ren are ty p ica lly u n ­ a b le to s e lf-r e fle c tiv e ly d escrib e w h a t th ey k n o w . O n e o f th e birth p aren ts is th en attrib u ted a certa in p ro p erty. such as b eliefs. p oin tin g . In th e case o f the a d o p tio n task. w ill s/he resem b le th e birth o r th e a d o p tiv e p aren t in that p ro p e rty ? In o th e r w o rd s . p s y c h o lo g ic a l o r b io lo g ic a l con cepts. and m en ta l p ro p erties.e v e n if it co n tra d ic te d the m o ra lly ch arged idea th a t p e o p le are not anim als. but d o n o t e x p e c t th e m to be able to e x p la in w h y th ey d o so.because such p ro p erties are a cqu ired th ro u g h le a rn in g and h a b itu a tio n o n e can in fe r that th ey. w h a t I shall describe b e lo w as th e a d o p ­ tio n task w a s d e sig n e d w ith the fo llo w in g co n sid e ra tio n in m in d : y o u n g ch ild ren 's k n o w le d g e is system a tica lly u n d e re stim a ted if it is assessed by v e rb a l p ro d u c tio n tasks. lik e N o rth A m e ric a n adults. th ey h a v e to m ak e a sim p le sim ilarity ju d g m e n t. 1996).8 T h e r e fo re . to es­ tablish that a y o u n g ch ild (o r p relin gu istic in fa n t) m asters certain n u m erica l.because such p rop erties are in h e rite d th ro u gh filia tio n . If c h ild ren ju d g e that th e a d o p te d child w ill res e m b le th e b irth p aren t o n b o d ily p ro p erties .it en a b le d h e r to con clu d e that h u m an s h a v e lu n gs and th at chick en s h a v e a vavafo . d e v e lo p ­ m en ta l psych ologists d esig n e x p e rim e n ta l te c h n iq u e s th at req u ire participants to c h o o s e b e tw e e n d iffe r e n t o u tc o m es (b y lo o k in g .an d th e a d o p tiv e p a ren t o n m en ta l p ro p ertie s . T h e m e th o d o lo g y I h a v e a d o p te d w as o r ig in a lly d e vis e d by d e v e lo p m e n ta l p sych ologists to e x p lo r e N o rth A m e ric a n ch ild ren 's u n derstan d in g o f fa m ily resem b la n ce a n d o f the ro le that p ro c re a tio n p lays in th e transm ission o f p ro p erties fro m parents to offs p rin g (S o lo m o n e t al. the task presents participants w ith tw o d istinct sets o f p rop erties: b o d ily p ro p erties o n th e o n e h a n d (e. L ik e m ost tasks used by d e v e lo p m e n ta l psychologists. rea ch in g.g. T h e e x ­ p e rim e n te r infers fr o m th e child 's resp on se the k n o w le d g e th at the child m ust h a v e (o r la ck ) to c o m e to that p articu lar con clu sio n . In m u ch m o r e system atic fash ion . Crucially. p articipants are to ld a sim p le story ab ou t a baby b o rn to o n e set o f parents and raised b y an oth er.. b e lie v in g th at skunks can see in the dark as o p p o s e d to b e lie v in g th at skunks c a n n ot see in th e d a rk ). I h a v e m a d e use o f a n in fe r e n ­ tial task to u n d erta k e a stu d y o f h o w V e zo p e o p le con stru e th e p r o c ­ ess o f b io lo g ic a l in h e rita n c e . h a v e c o m e to d iffe re n tia te b e tw e e n tw o d istinct causal m ech an ism s fo r th e trans­ . w h ile o n e o f th e a d o p tiv e p aren ts is attrib u ted a n o th e r c o n tra stive p r o p ­ erty.

th e story w as to ld in su ch a w a y that it d id n o t e v o k e the social and m oral setting in w h ic h V ezo a d o p ­ tio n n o rm a lly takes p lace (i. th e in e v ita b le o u tc o m e o f a n a iv e m e th o d o lo g y . th ese criticism s are m is ­ p laced. fr e e to use a n u m b e r o f a lte rn a tiv e .e . g e ttin g p e o p le to reason in this w a y m a y r e v e a l k n o w le d g e th at th e y possess and use. participan ts w e r e fo rc ed .w h ic h w as in te n tio n a lly k e p t as cu ltu ren e u tra l as p ossible. In stead . T h e a d o p tio n task is u n d o u b te d ly constructed a ro u n d th ese d ic h o to m ie s . D esp ite th e ir rh e to ric a l fo rc e.a rid d le . but it does n o t impose th e m o n th e p articipants. b o d ily ch aracteristics th a t p e o p le c o n sid e red n e ith e r desirab le n o r u n a ttra ctive. th e res e m b la n c e q u estio n s participan ts w e r e c o n fr o n te d w ith did n o t p rim e th e ir b eliefs ab ou t th e p lasticity o f bab ies' p h y s io g n o m y o r th e ir n a rratives a b ou t th e r o le o f social rela tion s in sh ap in g th e o rg a n ic m a k e -u p o f th e p e r ­ son. B y v ir ­ tue o f th e ir s h e e r od d n ess (see b e lo w ). and the traits fo r th e res e m b la n c e q u e s tio n s w e r e c h o se n so as to be v a lu e -fr e e (e . F o r e x a m p le . th e y can sail th ro u g h th e task b lissfu lly u n a w a r e o f th e d istin ction s b e in g p ro b ed . A s K orsia's e x a m p le a b o v e suggests. b e tw e e n b o d ily an d m en ta l traits. th e a d o p tio n task sets o u t a h y p o th e t­ ical scen a rio . I am a c u te ly a w a re th at a n th ro p o lo g is ts u sed to m o r e in fo rm a l an d o p e n -e n d e d in te r v ie w in g tech n iq u es are lik e ly to a rgu e th at th e a d o p tio n task is m e th o d o lo g ic a lly fla w e d because. w h o are a d e p t at s y s te m a tizin g an d v e rb a liz in g th e ir v ie w s a b o u t th e w o rld . it im p o ses o n th e p articipants the o n to lo g ic a l d istin ctio n s o f th e resea rch er . n o n -d u a lis tic rea so n in g strategies (e.g .. T h e characteristics that m a k e th e a d o p tio n task an a p p ro p ria te to o l fo r w o r k in g w ith c h ild re n m a k e it e q u a lly u sefu l fo r w o r k in g w ith adults. b e tw e e n b irth and n u rtu re. o f org a n is m and p erson .iting and Obscuring Rivers's Pedigrees 223 m ission o f tw o o n to lo g ic a lly d istin ct p ro p ertie s o f th e p erson .. o f b irth an d n u rtu re. th e f in d ­ in g th at V e zo in fo rm a n ts m ig h t rea son in term s o f th ese d ic h o to m ies w o u ld be a m isle a d in g fab rica tion . to p u t th e ir th in k ­ in g cap o n and fig u re o u t th e a n s w e r to e n tir e ly n e w qu estio n s. b e liefs th at carried n o o b v io u s tru th v a lu e ). N o ta b ly . th e a d v a n ta g e o f using th e a d o p tio n task to e x p lo r e h o w th e y con stru e th e process o f b io lo g ic a l in h e rita n c e w a s th at it did n o t d ire c tly tap in to th e ir stock cu ltu ral k n o w le d g e . as it w e r e . ju st lik e R ivers's g e n e a lo g ic a l m e th o d .. I f p a r ­ ticipants d o n o t d iffe r e n tia te b e tw e e n birth and a d o p tiv e parents. O n ly th e n can th e y be cred ited w ith a causal u n d e rs ta n d in g o f biological in h e rita n c e as d istin ct fro m social lea rn in g . In th e case o f V e zo adults. th e 'tr u e ' p a ren t is th e o n e th at gen era tes. an d the .g.th e d u alism o f socia lity an d b io lo gy . b u t w h ic h th e y d o n o t n o rm a lly c h o o s e to e n c o d e verb a lly . In this v ie w . a m o n g close re la tiv e s ).

ru m o u rs spread a rou n d th e v illa g e th at I w as w a stin g p e o p le 's tim e b y asking silly qu estion s. W h e n used w ith c h ild ren . e tc . and th e child w ill th e re fo re res e m b le h im on all traits. I also ad d ed th a t I had b e en sen t to d o this jo b b y m y eld ers an d teachers. at th e ou tset th e y . whereas the father w h o raised the child ( baba niteza azy) believed that chameleons have 20 teeth. th e 'tr u e ' p a ren t is th e o n e that adopts. w h e n V ezo adults p a rticip a te in this task?1 0 T h e first th in g to b e said is th at th e y w e r e in itia lly ra th e r d o u b tfu l a b o u t th e seriousness o f th e exercise. th e a d o p tio n task has co n sis te n tly fa ile d to d e te c t a n y d if­ fe re n tia tio n b e tw e e n in h e rite d and a c q u ire d p rop erties. if p a r­ ticipants are n o t 'in fe c te d ' b y dualistic rea so n in g. b e tw e e n birth and social p aren ts. I in tro d u ce d th e task b y p o in tin g o u t that s o m e o f th e qu estio n s I w a s ab ou t to ask c o u ld b e a n sw ere d in m o r e th an o n e w a y and th at I w a s in terested in th e d iffe re n t o p in io n s that p e o p le m ig h t h a v e a b o u t th em . irre s p ec tiv e o f w h e th e r it is th e trait attrib u ted to th e birth o r a d o p tiv e p aren t. as th e y had so g e n e ro u s ly d o n e in th e past.9 In o th e r w o rd s . e x p lic it V e zo b eliefs a b o u t b ab ies' loo k s seem to s ystem atically b lu r th e o n to lo g ic a l distin ction s fo r w h ic h th e a d o p tio n task is d esign ed to test.224 Rita Astuti child w ill th e r e fo r e res e m b le h im on all traits. T h a t th e a d o p tio n task d oes n o t h a v e th e m agical p o w e r to im p o se du alistic categories o n to a m o n is tic m in d is n o v a cu ou s sp ecu lation . w hen the child is fully grown up. this task is a sen sitive d iag n ostic to o l. th ere b y m a k in g th e ir c o n trib u tio n red u n d a n t and p o in tle ss . I suggest that m ost o f th e in itial fru stration w as g e n e ra te d b y th e fact th at adults assu m ed th at I k n e w th e a n s w e r to th e q u estion s I w as posin g. the ch ild w ill res e m b le th e a d o p tiv e parents o n ’ all traits becau se o f its e x tr e m e m a lle a b ility. th e y w ill not test p ositive.1 2 A w a re o f this p ro b lem . b e tw e e n 'facts o f b io lo g y ' an d 'facts o f s o ­ c ia lity '. but th e y w e r e n o t p re p a re d fo r q u estio n s o f this kind : The father1 1 who generated the child (baba niteraky azy) believed that chameleons have 30 teeth. w ill he believe that chameleons have 30 teeth like the father w h o generated him or will he believe that chameleons have 20 teeth like the father w h o raised him? D u rin g th e p ilo tin g stage o f th e study. T h e y w e r e used to h a v in g m e rele n tle ss ly asking all sorts o f q u e s ­ tions. a n d I asked p e o ­ p le to b e s u p p o rtiv e o f m y e ffo rts to a d v a n c e m y studies. N on e th e les s . the child w ill h a v e w h ic h e v e r trait seem s tru er o r p r e fe r ­ able.). th en . A s w e saw earlier. This ap p eal alm ost a lw a y s m a n a g e d to w e ll-d is p o s e ad u lt participants. W h a t happens. In your opinion.

far to o o b v io u s . Rather. W h a t th e y saw. I take this as e v ­ id e n c e that V e zo adults h a v e con stru cted a c o n ce p t o f 'b io lo g ic a l . Finally. Th is fin d in g suggests th at V e zo adults d iffe re n tia te b e tw e e n t w o causal m ech an ism s (o n e h a v in g to d o w ith g e n e ra tin g c h ild ren . A n o v e r w h e lm in g 77 p e r c e n t o f ad u lt participan ts s h o w e d a 'd if ­ fe re n tia te d p a tte r n '. 'N o w I can see w h a t this is all a b o u t!') as p articipants saw th e p o in t o f w h a t had s e em e d u n til th en a p oin tless c o n ve rs a tio n . i.Revealing and O fcjrlB P li Rivers's Pedigrees 225 w e r e v is ib ly p u zzle d by the p ro c ed u re . n o th in g in th e task fo rc ed th em to g e t this p oin t. as th ey fo u n d the an sw ers to m y resem b la n ce qu estio n s . h a lfw a y th ro u g h th e task. an d that beliefs are transm itted th ro u gh lea rn in g and te a c h ­ in g (h e n c e th e child 's resem b la n ce to th e a d o p tiv e p a ren t)..e. p a r­ ticipants m ust h a v e rea so n e d th at b o d ily p ro p ertie s are in h e rite d th ro u g h links o f filia tio n (h e n c e th e child's res e m b la n c e to th e birth p a re n t). (1 9 9 6 ). o r w h e t h e r p e o p le c o m e to b e ­ lie v e w h a t th e y are ta u gh t b y th eir p aren ts (fo r th ose w h o w e r e first p re s e n te d w ith th e set o f qu estio n s a b o u t b e lie fs ). toetsiny) . w as th at I w a s not try in g to find o u t th e o b v io u s. participan ts w e r e said to h a v e s h o w n a 'd iffe re n tia te d p a tte r n ' if th e y ju d g e d th at th e a d o p te d ch ild w o u ld res e m b le the b irth p aren t o n m ost o f th e b o d ily traits and th e a d o p tiv e fa th er o n m ost o f th e b eliefs. T h e re w e r e at this m o m e n t c le a r signs o f r e c o g n itio n (e.w h e t h e r a b ou t b o d ily traits o r ab ou t b e lie fs ” . It w as o n ly h a lfw a y th ro u gh the task w h e n th e y had rea lize d th at o n ly so m e o f th e qu estion s w e r e a b ou t th e a d o p te d ch ild 's p h ysica l ap p ea ra n ce { vatany) w h ile o th e rs w e r e a b ou t his m in d o r ch aracter (sainy..th at th e y b e ca m e m o r e e n g a g e d . F o llo w in g S o lo m o n et al. th e o th e r h a v in g to d o w ith n u rtu rin g th e m ) fo r th e transm ission o f t w o d is­ tin ct kinds o f p ro p ertie s (b o d ily traits and b e liefs ).g.1 4 F o r this p attern o f ju d g m e n ts to e m e rg e . th e y w e r e said to h a v e s h o w n an 'a d o p tiv e p a ren t bias' if th e y ju d g e d that th e a d o p te d ch ild w o u ld res e m b le the a d o p tiv e p aren t on all o r alm ost all traits. A s I h a v e a rgu ed earlier. w h e t h e r babies g e t th e ir loo k s fro m th e p aren ts w h o g e n e ra te d th em (fo r th ose w h o w e r e first p resen ted w ith th e set o f q u estio n s a b o u t b o d ily traits). P a rticip a n ts' o v e r a ll p e rfo rm a n c e can be cap tu red by a n a lysin g th e ir in d iv id u a l ju d g m e n t patterns. th e y w e r e said to h a v e s h o w n a 'b irth p aren t bias' if th ey ju d g e d th at th e a d o p te d child w o u ld res e m b le th e b irth p a ren t on all o r a lm o s t all traits. participants w h o did n o t s h o w a n y o f th e a b o v e p atterns w e r e co n sid e red to h a v e s h o w n a 'm ix e d p a tte rn '. w h a t I w as tr y in g to fin d o u t w a s w h e t h e r th ere is a n y d iffe r e n c e b e tw e e n th e w a y c h ild ren c o m e to h a v e th e ir p a ren ts' loo k s and th e w a y th e y c o m e to share th e ir p a ren ts' b eliefs.

[The father w h o generated the child was cross-eyed.Year-old M ale Inform ant [The father w h o generated the child had roundish ears. m o re g en erally. th e traits fo r w h ic h it w a s g iv e n are in d ica ted in brackets. This is c o n firm e d b y th e sp on tan eou s ju stification s th at participants o ffe re d in su p p ort o f th eir ju d g m e n ts. I p resen t b e lo w so m e extracts fro m th e p ro to c o ls o f a fe w participants w h o s h o w e d a 'd iffe r e n tia te d p a tte r n '. w h ic h p ro v id e a m o re q u a lita tiv e p ictu re o f th e ir causal rea son in g. the father w h o raised the child believed that pineap­ ple is healthier than papaya. p articipants p ro v id e d ju stifica tion s o n ly fo r a s electio n o f th eir ju d g m e n ts .1 5 Sin ce th e task w as v e r y re p e titiv e . I stand b y the claim th at V ezo an d E u ro -A m e ric a n con cep ts o f b io lo g ic a l in h e rita n c e an d social le a rn in g are c o m m e n su ra b le to o n e an oth er. fo r each ju s tific a tio n . W h en it comes to believing things. in s o fa r as th e y p lay th e sam e in fe re n tia l r o le in ad u lt rea so n in g ab ou t fa m ily r e ­ sem b lan ce.226 Rita Astuti in h e rita n c e ' as distinct fro m a c o n c e p t o f 's o c ia l le a rn in g ' and. To g iv e a fe e l fo r this m aterial. the father w h o raised the child had straight eyes.] Like the father w h o generated him. but w h en it comes to the ways o f his body (fomham-batany) this will depend on the father w h o generated him. These things are determined by one's blood (mandeha aminy ra). the child will follo w the fa­ ther w h o raised him. this claim w o u ld be d a ft (fo r e x a m p le . the father w h o raised the child had pointed ears. G iven th e d iffe re n t in tellectu a l trad ition s and s o c io -e c o n o m ic co n te x ts in w h ic h th ese con cep ts g e t con stru cted . I sh ou ld c la rify that th e claim I am a d v a n c in g h e re is n o t that the con cep ts o f 'b io lo g ic a l in h e rita n c e ' and 'social le a r n in g ' h e ld b y V e zo adults m ap e x a c tly o n to th e e q u iv a le n t set o f con cep ts h e ld b y E u ro -A m e ric a n adults.] H e'll be like the father w h o raised him because he grew up here [in the adoptive parents' village]. 23-Year-Old M ale In form a n t [The father w h o generated the child believed that papaya is healthier than pineapple. . that th e y d ra w th e o n to lo g ic a l d istin ctio n b e tw e e n 'facts o f b io lo g y ' a n d 'facts o f s ociality '. th ere is n o e v id e n c e that V e zo adults are fa m ilia r w ith W e s te r n accou n ts o f b io lo g ic a l in h e r i­ tance in term s o f g e n e tic c o d in g ). because he is the one w h o generated him and for this reason the boy's face will be like his. and his thoughts grew apart from the other father.] He'll be like his father. 49. N on e th e les s .

th e y w e r e asked to reflect on certa in aspects o f th e ir spatial o r lin gu istic k n o w !- . lo o k in g .] Like the father w h o raised him because this is about his char­ acter ( toetsiny) and not about his body (vatany). fo r e x a m p le . w h ic h are a c q u ire d th ro u g h listen in g.] Like the father w h o raised him be­ cause the thoughts o f those w h o raise him have power/influence over him. [The father w h o generated him believed that chameleons have 30 teeth. And yet the parents w h o generated him also have power/influence since if it w eren 't for them he would not have come out onto this earth. th e ju s ­ tifica tion s d e m o n s tra te th at th e c o n ce p tu a l k n o w le d g e V e z o adults reso rted to w h e n a n s w e r in g th e res e m b la n c e q u estio n s is rea d ily a v a ila b le to th e ir con scio u s scru tin y an d v e rb a l e la b o ra tio n . the father w h o raised him had roundish ears.] Like the father w h o generated him. the father w h o raised the boy believed that horses have stronger teeth than cows. T h e s e statem en ts a re s ig n ifica n t fo r at least t w o reasons. w h ic h are acqu ired th ro u gh th e 'te m p la te ' th at is passed o n th ro u gh p ro c re a tio n . 49-Year-O ld Female In form a n t [The father w h o generated him had a flat appendix. the father w h o raised him believed that chameleons have 20 teeth. because that's w h ere the child gets his template (modely) from. They are the 'ow n ers' of the child (tompony) since the child w ould not be alive if it were not for them. and th e p rop erties o f th e body. In his body (am-batany).] He will look only like the fa­ ther w h o generated him. W h a t I call a 'd iffe r e n tia te d p a tte rn ' d oes r e fle c t th e p articipan ts' t h e o r e t­ ic a lly m o tiv a te d d is tin c tio n b e tw e e n t w o causal m ech a n ism s fo r the tran sm issio n o f t w o o n to lo g ic a lly d iffe r e n t sets o f p ro p erties. T h e y did n o t find it in a n y w a y d iffic u lt to put th e ir causal rea so n in g in to w o rd s (as o n e m ig h t im a g in e th e y w o u ld if. le a rn in g and g r o w in g up w ith s o m e o n e .iling and Obscuring Rivers's Pedigrees 221 6 0 -Year-Old M ale In form a n t [The father w h o generated the child believed that cows have stronger teeth than horses. the father w ho raised him had a roundish appendix. th e y c o n firm that th e c o d in g o f participan ts' resem b la n ce ju d g m e n ts cap tu res s o m e th in g im p o rta n t a b o u t th e ir rea s o n in g strategy. S econ d . [The father w h o generated him had pointed ears. V e zo adults c o u ld n o t h a v e b e e n m o r e articu late in id e n tify in g th e d iffe r ­ e n c e b e tw e e n a p ers o n 's ch aracter an d w a y s o f th in k in g . First. he will be like the one w h o generated him. and he will believe like the father w h o brought him up because he hears his words.

. In m a n y w ays. B e fo r e th e y can w a lk o r talk. To c o u n te ra ct this ten d en cy. the ju s tification s rev e a l that V ezo adults fou n d th e task s o m e w h a t o b v io u s an d th e rea so n in g necessary to s o lv e it p o s itiv e ly transparent. F irth reports that th e T ik op ia re c o g n ize th at babies are p a rticu la rly attached to th e ir 'r e a l' p aren ts ('th e c h ie f d esire o f th e babe .g. an d th a t it: has b e en su p p lan ted b y the w id e r k in sh ip g ro u p . W h e n I g o a w a y. V e zo seem to fin d th e d iffe r ­ e n c e b e tw e e n birth and n u rtu re ra th e r o b v io u s an d u n w o r th y o f m u c h e la b o ra tio n . c ry fo r m e . th e y d e p lo y a n u m b e r o f m ech an ism s fo r 'd e ta c h in g ' c h ild ren fro m th eir p aren ts and m a k in g th em 'a d ­ h e r e ' to o th e r m em b e rs o f th e w id e r kinship g ro u p . 1 9 0 -9 3 ). D o n o t cry fo r y o u r parents. it m ig h t seem that th e in d iv id u a l fa m ily is n o t a real e n tity a m o n g the T ik op ia.' F irth p oin ts ou t that. h o w e v e r . as a resu lt o f th ese practices. It stands to reason that w e c a n n ot b egin to un derstan d the m o tiv a tio n b e ­ hin d th ese practices if w e w e r e to assum e th at V ezo o n to lo g y is b lin d to the d iffe r e n c e th at th ese w a y s o f eatin g.228 Rita Astuti e d g e ). sle ep in g and s e e ­ in g are m ea n t to m itiga te.' F inally. I a m y o u r fa th e r [e. O n this p oin t. E n c o u ra g ­ in g c h ild ren to eat an d sleep in m a n y d iffe r e n t houses is o n e w a y . asserting th at b ab ies' p h y s io g n o m y is shaped b y th e action s o f p e o ­ p le o th e r than the parents w h o g e n e ra te th e m is an oth er. y o u c o m e an d seek fo r m e. th e y a re a p ­ p ro ach ed by m em b e rs o f the e x te n d e d fa m ily w h o w h is p e r to th em : 'Y o u r e m e m b e r m e. are th e w a y s in w h ic h th e y can strive to a tten u a te this d iffe re n c e an d th e d iv is iv e effects it has o n th e m a p p in g o f kinship. This im pression . c h ild ren can be m o r e p e r ­ m a n e n tly d e ta c h e d fro m th e ir paren ts and m ad e to 'a d h e r e ' to a d if­ fe re n t d o m e stic u n it because 'it is bad fo r a child to a d h e re o n ly to its p aren ts. in the case o f a classifica to ry fa th e r). Erasing the Traces o f B iological K in sh ip T h e results o f th e a d o p tio n task in d ica te th at V e zo adults d iffe r e n ti­ ate b e tw e e n th e b io lo g ic a l an d th e social processes th at c on trib u te to th e m a k in g o f th e p erson . is m islea d in g because it ig n o re s th at th e stren gth o f the w id e r k in sh ip g ro u p is b u ilt up b y p e o p le ’s con sciou s effo rts to w e a k e n th e in d iv id u a l fam ily. W h a t th e y find m o r a lly e n g a g in g . b y contrast.its o w n p a re n ts '). In fan ts are ta u gh t n o t to turn to w a rd s th e ir fa th e r o r m o th e r b u t to w a rd s the eld ers o f the g ro u p . . m y analysis is sim ilar to th at o f F irth reg a rd in g the T ik op ia p ra ctice o f 't h e a d h e rin g c h ild ' (1 9 6 3 . As n o te d .

th at y o u r child is yours' ( olom -belo tsy maintsy misy fam antara io anakin a o). G ran ted th at such signs exist and w ill n o t g o aw ay. 1 6 D u rin g o n e a d m in is tra tio n o f th e a d o p tio n task. to atten u a te the d iffe r ­ e n c e b e tw e e n b irth an d n u rtu re in o r d e r to build a c o m m u n ity in w h ic h c h ild re n are g e n e ra te d .. A s n o te d b y V iv e iro s d e C astro (th is v o lu m e ).g. C arsten 1995. n u rtu re d and m o u ld e d b y a m u ch la rge r n e tw o r k o f rela tion s than th e on es d em a rca ted b y th e 'facts o f b io lo g y '. H o w e v e r . to ob scu re th e b o u n d a rie s o f th eir p e d ig rees. In g o ld 1991. o n e cou ld also le g itim a te ly argu e that th ey .selfe v id e n t. th e assertion th at th e o n to lo g ic a l distin ction b e tw e e n b iolo gica l and social processes is a p ecu lia r fe a tu re o f th e W estern in telle c tu a l tra d itio n has b e c o m e s o m e th in g o f an a n th ro p o lo g ic a l a x io m . 'k in s h ip itself is a process o f b e c o m in g ' (C arsten 1995: 2 2 3 ). h e ju d g e d that the a d o p te d ch ild w o u ld res e m b le th e birth p a ren t in all p ro p e rtie s ) o ffe re d a s trik in g ju s tific a tio n fo r o n e o f his ju d g m e n ts. and social id e n tity as flu id ' (C arsten 1995: 2 3 5 ). p e rm a n e n t rela tion sh ip . T his claim has b e e n c en tral to th e con stru ctivist turn in th e study o f kinship. it m ig h t a p p ea r that V e zo k in sh ip transcends the d istin ction s b e tw e e n th e 'facts o f b io lo g y ' and th e 'facts o f s o ciality'. b e tw e e n p hysical and social id en tities. o n e o f th e fe w participants w h o s h o w e d a 'b irth p a ren t bias' (th a t is. H e said that th e a d o p te d child w o u ld h a v e p o in te d ears lik e his birth fa th e r b e ­ cause 'in th e case o f h u m an bein gs th ere m u st be a sign. F ro m this o n to lo g ic a l stan dpoint. 1997. B o u q u et 1993. A t first sight. S c h n e id e r 1984. Conclusion L a rg e ly as a resu lt o f th e sustained attacks against th e study o f k in ­ ship. th e m a jo r ­ ity o f V e zo adults strive to erase th e m as best as th e y can. g en etic. in c o n tr o v e rtib le and id e o lo g ic a lly correct (see. a p ro o f. F ran k lin an d M c K in n o n 2001. th ere is n o intractable c o re to h u m a n relatedn ess.Revealing and O lx iirm g Rivers's Pedigrees 229 A sim ila r a r g u m e n t can b e m a d e w ith re fe r e n c e to m y V e zo m a ­ terial. But this in te rp re ta tio n is m isle a d in g b ecause it ig n ores p e o p le 's con sciou s e ffo rts to w o r k against th e ties o f b io lo g ic a l kinship. fo r it has b een used to a rgu e th at n o n -W e s te r n 'cu ltu res o f rela ted n ess' are in sen sitive to th e d istin ctio n 'b e t w e e n k in sh ip as a b io lo g ic a l. e. S trathern 1992). th ese con clu sion s are p resen ted as if th e y w e r e 'th e result o f n o n -W e s te rn ideas h a v ­ in g b e e n e ffe c tiv e ly used to c h a lle n g e E u ro c e n tric a n th ro p o lo g ic a l c o n ce p tio n s '. b e tw e e n o rg an ism and p e r ­ son. instant.

and for giving me an opportunity to present the results of this proj­ ect to a challenging anthropological audience. m y a im has b e e n to use this fin d in g to un derstan d h o w m y V e zo in fo rm a n ts in M ad agasca r co n ce p tu a lize . The data presented in this chapter are part o f a larger collabo­ rative project between anthropologists and cognitive psychologists Maurice Bloch (London School of Economics). Data analysis was undertaken during a sabbatical year at the Laboratory o f Developmental Studies. I w o u ld suggest th at in s o fa r as the c u rren t h e g e m o n ic co n ce p tu a liza tio n s o f kinship h a v e b e en shaped b y th ese historical and cultural trends. Susan Carey (Harvard). as I h a v e illu strated in this chapter. th ere is in p rin c ip le n o g u a r ­ a n tee that th ey b rin g us an y c loser to th e u n d ersta n d in g o f o th e r p e o p le 's 'cu ltu res o f rela ted n ess'. . Q u ite sim ply. funded by the Econom ic and Social Research Council (Research Fellow ship R000271254. 2002-05) and the Leverhulm e Foundation (Study Abroad Fellowship. q u o te d in F irth 1968: 19) th ro u gh th e g e n e a lo g ic a l m eth o d . a n d th at th e ir o n to lo g y lacks th e distinction b e tw e e n biological and social processes. As 1 h o p e is clear. an d th e cu rre n t in fa tu a tio n w ith 'c re a tiv ity ' and 's e lf-fa s h io n in g '. and m a n ip u la te h u m a n k in sh ip . m y in te n tio n is n o t to use this fin d in g to dismiss the critiq u e o f the study o f k in sh ip a n d suggest th at w e r e v e r t to c o l­ lectin g 'b o d ie s o f d ry fact' (R iv e rs 1914. T h e e v id e n c e I h a ve p resen ted has s h o w n th at th e cla im that V e zo p e o p le c o n c e p tu a lize the n a tu re o f b o th b io lo g ic a l and social rela tion s as flu id an d processual. Gregg Solom on (National Science Foundation) and myself. refle c t u p on . im p u tin g a 'n o n -d u a lis tic ' o n to lo g y to th em is not the w a y to d o it. R ather. 1 wish to thank all these institutions for their gen er­ ous support. such as th e p e rc e iv e d d e stab ilizatio n o f natu re b rou gh t abou t by the n e w rep rod u ctive and b iom ed ica l tech n ologies. Harvard University. I am grateful to Sandra Bamford and James Leach for organizing an excellent session at the Annual M eeting of the Am erican Anthropological Association in N ew Or­ leans. which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant R000237191) and the Nuffield Foundation (Social Science Research Foundation F ellow ­ ship. 2002-03). th e y d o not.2 30 Rita Astuti stem fro m the v e r y sp ecific h istorical and cultural d e v e lo p m e n ts tak­ ing place in the W est 'in d e p e n d e n tly o f an y e n lig h te n m e n t dispensed b y a n th r o p o lo g y '. is factu ally w ro n g . F o llo w in g V iv e iro s de Castro. N otes This chapter is based on research undertaken in Madagascar. A n d in d eed . 1997-98).

does not seem to be the case. This is the v ie w o f M cKinnon (2002) w ho. From this we can infer that w h atever it is that is shared by the children of tw o sisters that makes them so close .. The most com pelling evidence that wom en's contribution o f blood. . H owever. a little boy got lost in the fields. 4. Vezo in form ­ ants say that it is because the children of tw o sisters were attached to the same umbilical cord and shared the same wom b (i. Bloch (p er­ sonal com m unication) reports that during his fieldwork am ong the M erina in the highlands of Madagascar. This behaviour is com m on throughout Madagascar (e. This. sexual taboos between the children o f tw o sis­ ters are the strongest and sexual relations betw een them are the most incestuous). it took some time before the extended fam ily realized that he was actually missing. must have originated and must have been transferred to them from their respective mothers. stated that 'systems like those o f the Vezo . the wombs o f their respective mothers are treated as one and the same). The reader might interpret the brief description of Vezo view s on p ro­ creation as suggesting that only fathers transfer bodily substance to their children.g.. plants. also com m only follow ed by psychologists. See Bloch (1986) for a general discussion of the w ay Merina construe biological ties and how they overcom e their divisiveness through ritual means. W hen asked w h y such people are so close. than that between the children of tw o brothers (for this reason.. 3. food and 'housing' is equally. 2.g.almost identical .e. one of the intuitive theories stud­ ied by psychologists goes under the name o f 'naive psychology'. 5. Such theory construes persons as psychological beings (rather than as.Iling and Obscuring Rivers's Pedigrees 231 1... For example. e. I here adopt one o f the philosophical uses o f the term ontology. to m ean the set of things whose existence is acknowledged by a particular theory or system o f thought (see Low e 1995: 634). since his parents assumed that he was staying w ith some other 'parents' and it would have been considered rude for them to look for him. which can occasionally be judged to have been 'productive'.to one another. for example. and it extends to children's sleeping arrangements. defy our dualisms altogether'. Vezo consider the children o f tw o sisters as enjoying the closest possible re­ lation. such as the decision to perform the ritual that establishes exclusive rights over one's children's dead bodies (see Astuti 1995 for further details). The on ly context w hen this is admissible is w hen ancestral matters are concerned. in her comments on my pa­ per at the Annual M eeting o f the Am erican Anthropological Associa­ tion. closer. 6. The term teraky is also used to refer to the act of generation o f animals. if not m ore 'substantive' than the contribution of men's semen is the fact that. however. wells (w hich generate water) or communal activities. like other people in Madagascar. such as meetings. Bloch 1971: 83).

origin. the best example being grammatical knowledge.g. Solom on and Carey 2004. source of the entity to which it pertains. Fluent adult speakers are obviously able to apply grammatical rules. Fo is com m only translated as heart. Solom on and Carey 2001). 'naive psychology' specifies the existence and the nature of the entities to w hich it applies . for it addresses the question of whether they hold an intuitive theory (in this case 'naive biology') that commits them to the existence of such things as biological facts and processes as opposed to social facts and processes.g. 6. Solom on 2002. Solom on et al. Gim enez and Har­ ris 2002. 10. Springer and Keil 1989. 1 shall limit m y attention to the data on Vezo adults' under­ standing of biological inheritance. 7. Bloch. By deploying several different versions that manipulated the identity o f the birth and adoptive parents. 1 was able to explore tw o related issues: the w ay Vezo participants at differ­ ent ages reason about the transmission of individual properties from parents to children. urban Tamil children in India have not done so before the age of tw elve (M ahalingham 1998). 1996. Adults are equally unable to reflect on certain domains of their k n o w l­ edge. Carey 1985: chap. I used it with Vezo children.S. desires. there was no evidence o f a .2 32 Rita Astuti physical objects or biological entities) whose actions are caused and ex­ plained in terms of their mental states (e. but the meaning of this term. For the analysis of the entire data set. adolescents and adults (ranging from six to ninety years of age). Springer 1996. e.. The claim that Vezo people either make or do not make the distinction between 'facts of biology' and 'facts o f sociality' is thus a claim about ontology. The ontology of naive psychol­ ogy' consists in this specification. beliefs. and the w ay they reason about the transmission of social group identity and species kind. The adoption task was first successfully used by Bloch am ong the Zafi­ maniry o f Madagascar (Bloch et al.. 2001). Wellm an and Gelman 1992). Williams and Affleck 1999). see Astuti et al. 8. After adapting it to local cir­ cumstances. hopes. and rural Zafimaniry and Vezo children in Madagascar have not before the age of thirteen or fourteen (Astuti. in Madagascar and in Southeast Asia more generally. A control task was designed to establish w hether participants might reason differently depending on w hether the link of filiation targeted by the questions was paternal or maternal. but they are typically unable to state what these rules are. Children in Europe and the U. For the purpose o f the present discussion. etc. 11.. 2004. is much richer as it indicates the very root. Like other theories. Weissman and Kalish 1999.).such things as mental states and mental processes as distinct from such things as physical ob­ jects and their mechanical behaviour. 9. have not shown evidence of differen­ tiated reasoning before the age of six or seven (e. and people w h o subscribe to the theory of 'naive psychology' are thereby committed to its ontological distinctions (for m ore details see.g.

Preliminary analyses c on ­ ducted on these factors revealed no significant effects on the results presented below. Social Anthropology: The Journal o f the European Association o f Social Anthropologists 1(3): 277-90. 'adoptive parent bias'.atin-Square design in order to control for the potential confounding factors of w h ether the bodily traits w ere presented before or after the beliefs. 3 percent an 'adoptive parent bias'. M y closest female friends w ere at first puzzled that I did not know. I had encountered a similar problem w hen I asked people to tell m e h ow babies are made (lit.. Marriage and Images of Gender am ong the Vezo of Western Madagascar'.. see Astuti et al. R eferences Astuti. but after a few jokes to the effect o f 'have you not found this out yet?' they answered m y question. in M. For the complete statistical analysis. ------. half o f the participants w ere first asked the questions about the resemblance on bodily traits.edu/~lds/pdfs/vezo. A sample of complete proto­ cols by adult participants w h o showed 'differentiated'. 'birth parent bias'. 2004. 1998. as it were. 'W hat is it that places the child inside the woman's belly?'). Thus. 1995. and 'm ixed' patterns can be found at ' http://www. W hen 1 returned to the field having had a son. R. The fact that participants reasoned about the transmission of properties from father to son in the same w ay in w hich they reasoned about the transmission of properties from m other to daughter. Lambek and A. 'Food for Pregnancy: Procreation. while the other half w ere first asked the questions about the resemblance on beliefs.-. Strathern (eds). The study was balanced across participants according to a I. Bodies . confirms the point made earlier (see note 2) that Vezo regard wom en's and men's contri­ butions to their children as equally 'substantive'. w e did a good job at teaching you !' 13. 6 per cent showed a 'birth parent bias'.pdf'. 'If you really didn’t know before coming here. For a similar argument about gender identities am ong the Vezo.harvard. 15. The complete quantitative and qualitative analysis o f all the justifica­ tions can be found in Astuti et al. and which value of a pair of features was attributed to the birth parent. 12. ---------. 16. 2004. 1993. 14. that I really did not know. 'It's a Girl!": Reflections on Sex and Gender in Madagascar and Beyond'.Revealing and O b s ^ B g Rivers's Pedigrees 233 systematic effect and therefore in what follow s I ignore this variable. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. one wom an took me to one side and told me. see Astuti 1998. and 13 per cent a 'm ixed pattern'. People o f the Sea: Identity and Descent among the Vezo o f Madagas­ car.wjh. "I t 's a B o y !'. pretending. Of the remaining 23 per cent.

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